Arsenal top brass must take decisive steps to support Arteta


wo managers at opposite ends of the spectrum face each other tomorrow. One who’s seen it all in Carlo Ancelotti, another seeing things for the first time. And not all of it will please Mikel Arteta.

As an inexperienced boss finding life difficult just now, the Spaniard will quickly find out if he’s got the backing of his players, particularly senior ones more willing to speak out. Because when results go against, when the going gets tough, footballers start to complain. Nothing new there. That has always happened. But the modern day player holds a lot more sway. They are indeed more powerful as independent entities earning serious money.

In addition, it’s an open secret among football agents that Max Allegri, the Italian coach who enjoyed great success at Juventus, is being recommended as Arsenal‘s next manager.  

Not by the club I should stress, but by outside forces who want to capitalise on a difficult moment for the young manager. They seem to think Allegri would stand more of a chance, what with his years of experience in Serie A.  

To survive situations like this, Arteta needs unequivocal backing from those above. The management structure, led by chief executive Vinai Venkatesham and possibly including Stanley Kroenke’s son Josh, must take decisive steps to publicly support their manager to avoid his authority getting undermined. Those recent words of support from Edu, the technical director, are a start but not enough.  

In tandem, Arteta has got to make clear to the dressing room who’s calling the shots, who’s actually in charge of this listing ship. Because if players sense weakness, attitudes can swiftly change. Respect for the boss starts falling away. That’s why Arteta’s message must be clear and strong.  

As ever, though, results call the tune. If the Gunners can get something at Goodison Park and then against Chelsea on Boxing Day, those whispers for a change will die down. Conversely, two bad results and up ramps the heat. I mean, nobody at Arsenal wants to be associated with a relegation scrap, an unthinkable possibility if results don’t improve.

Watching this situation unfold, Ancelotti could be excused for raising that famous eyebrow and giving a wry smile. This is a manager, after all, who got sacked by Chelsea in Everton’s away dressing room, having just finished as runners-up and winning the Double, no less, the season before. The Italian doesn’t need reminding that it’s a cut-throat game.  

I don’t suppose Arteta does either. But if confirmation were needed, his first taste of management has bluntly delivered.

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